For those who regularly read my blog posts about leadership and life, you know I am often inspired around life’s deepest ‘matters’ by the energy and power derived through engagement and dialogue with others. And this week is no different, as I was inspired while having my annual birthday lunch with a friend. She gave me a simple reminder that sent me on a “thought binge” about leadership and growth. You should also know that I highly value the strength in living and “leading” a fully integrated life. Here is what my friend said to me: “all of life is a process.” Immediately, I thought about Leadership and the value in viewing Leadership as “Process.” As such, my wish for you is that over these next two Weekly Wisdom Blog posts you will be able to further glean how you can apply this teaching to your life while connecting leadership to core values and actions that create great leaders.
In full disclosure, the conversation with my friend reminded me of a piece I wrote not so long ago on leadership and formation and the critical connection through a process often termed trans-formation. Not so ironically, I was also reminded of last week’s post entitled Living Your Legacy, which highlighted Five Living Essentials for creating a life-transforming legacy to impact the lives of others. Indeed, the components of The Five Essentials are a part of the theory of formation I discuss this week. Here I share portions of the former writing on formation, which views leadership as an important Inside-Out “Process.” I invite you to continue to analyze the many facets of leadership as we grow together.
Here is Part I:
The question was once asked – are leaders born, or can one learn to lead? I contend there is truth in both camps. But whether you are a born leader or born to lead, you must experience transformation on some level in order to be an effective leader. In my work with leaders from many walks of life, I always suggest the best leaders are formed to meet success.
Formation is a kind of re-formation that leads to trans-formation. In other words, formation is serious business that requires you to abandon comfort for tough internal work that promises to challenge your thinking and prepare you to operate at a different level. You will know you are ready for formation work when you are equipped to confront the possibilities that exist beyond your level of comfort and are willing to embrace the fact that positive change presupposes confronting your growing edges. Likewise the leader who desires authentic and transforming growth is primed to resist the temptation to remain or become anesthetized by life’s challenges and/or its successes. Instead they are motivated to move as if life itself is depending on their willingness to pursue the journey of growth called formation.
Formation is a moral imperative both in life and leadership. As such, true formation work is a prompter inviting you down the path of setting values and ethical boundaries by which you will live and lead. It is a dynamic, continual process fueled by receipt of input and feedback, both internal and external, and it requires responding in an active manner. In essence, it is a journey that occurs over time.
Formation happens at the point of intersection between intentionality and authenticity, two of the five living essentials discussed in last week’s blog. Intentional leaders concern themselves with who they are and the path they travel. An authentic leader is genuine beyond the surface and ever seeking her true self while working to live a purposed life shaped by a personal philosophy of integrity. With crucial ties to integrity, moral consciousness and ethical patterns are the rules of law in formation. Said another way, rules of law are standards and boundaries by which one chooses to live, and the work of formation suggests integrity, honesty, morality, virtue, honor, and service.
With these opening thoughts on the critical nature of formation in leadership, I will pick up next week with more in reference to Leadership as Process, but first I invite you to challenge yourself to do the following over the next few days:
- Identify an area in your life wherein you desire to or know it would be beneficial for you to grow.
- Focus on that one area over the next week.
- Identify at least one thing you will do intentionally to spark growth in this area of your life. Don’t be afraid to set your bar high. As I often say, you must abandon comfort to experience the extraordinary.
- Once you have set your goal, begin your work, and remember – EVERYTHING BEGINS WITH A START…
Excerpts borrowed with permission from Leadership DASH: Breaking Through the Finish Line by: Geneace Williams.
Original Copyright © 2013 Geneace Williams. Edited Edition Copyright © 2015